Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Slacker or sick?

25.10.2005


Early nerve damage caused by repetitive strain injuries can trigger "sick worker" syndrome -- characterized by malaise, fatigue and depression, and often mistaken for poor performance, according to a study by Ann Barr, Ph.D., and Mary Barbe, Ph.D., at Temple University’s College of Health Professions. The study, "Increase in inflammatory cytokines in median nerves in a rat model of repetitive motion injury," is published this month in the Journal of Neuroimmunology.



Repetitive strain injuries are the nation’s most common and costly occupational health problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers and costing more than $20 billion a year in worker’s compensation, so employers have long been interested in the connection between the two conditions.

The purpose of the study was to observe early changes in nerves caused by repetitive strain that lead to chronic pain and eventual degenerative problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tennis elbow or other serious neural and musculoskeletal injuries. The Temple researchers hope the findings could one day lead to early intervention techniques that would prevent permanent damage.


They discovered that nerve injuries caused by low-force, highly repetitive work can be blamed on an onslaught of cytokines -- proteins that help start inflammation. These cytokines, known also to spark symptoms of malaise, appear in injured nerves as early as three weeks after the first signs of cell stress -- much earlier than previously believed. As the nerve injury progressed, ever greater numbers of cytokines were made at the injury site.

Unexpectedly, the researchers also found that the cytokines affected the rats’ psychosocial responses. With so many cytokines entering the blood stream so early, some apparently traveled to the brain, sparking the rat version of "sick-worker" syndrome. "At three weeks, even before the rats experienced pain from their wrist injuries, we watched them self-regulate their work behavior," said Barr. "With inflammatory proteins in the bloodstream, they began to slack off from completing their tasks."

By five weeks to eight weeks, when cytokine production reached "peak" levels, some rats curled up in a ball and slept in between tasks.

The researchers theorize that as early as three weeks -- as cytokines first appear in the newly injured nerve -- signs of "sick-worker" syndrome may begin. Employees may call out sick because of undefined symptoms, or slow down their work production. A low-grade depression may set in.

The connection between this "off" feeling and possible neural and musculoskeletal injuries may not be immediately apparent to the employee or employer, since actual pain is rare at this early stage of injury. Over months, however, as inflammation worsens, chronic pain will eventually lead workers to seek clinical help.

While some employers might see the cytokine connection as a simple opportunity to slack off work, Barbe disagrees.

"Cytokines are self-protective," she says. "This undefined feeling of malaise may be telling the body to take some time off to heal, before things get worse."

The next step for the researchers is to look more specifically at the psychosocial component of cytokines and their effect. To do this, they have been awarded a $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They are also in the process of translating their research into human subjects. In an earlier rat study, Barr and Barr observed increases in circulating blood levels of serum cytokines. They are now finishing a study in which they are examining blood collected from humans diagnosed with repetitive strain injuries for these cytokines. Positive findings could aid earlier diagnosis and therefore earlier treatment.

Eryn Jelesiewicz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.temple.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Real-time feedback helps save energy and water
08.02.2017 | Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>